And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Friday, January 25, 2008

If Wishes Were Fishes....

I stopped by my former place of work today after the traditional Friday Lunch with Dad and Bro. It felt like coming home. Oh, I miss it. Once again, my former boss told me that any time I can come back I am more than welcome.

Oh, I wish.

For those of you who never knew or have forgotten, I used to work at a Day Center for senior citizens. It is a wonderful program where seniors who would otherwise be home alone and isolated or forced into assisted living or a nursing home can come for as many days a week as they need or want. The Center provides transportation to and from the Center, and help with Dr. visits. They offer care services, such as baths and medication assistance. The most important part, though, is the social interaction. It is widely believed that many of our seniors suffer from horrible loneliness and depression. The Day Center provides a place where they can meet other seniors from the area, play games, go on outings, and generally be catered to in any way they want.

It was, quite simply, the most rewarding job I ever had. Even when the job was at it's most hectic, it's most frustrating, I knew every day when I came home that I had done something really positive with my day. The seniors who attended the Day Center became my friends and family. They would teach me new hobbies, tell stories of what it was like growing up for them, and generally share their perspective on life. My co-workers were all amazing and amazingly dedicated to the work we were doing.

I wish....

However, being what it is, the job doesn't pay well. The hours are iffy, since they staff based on census. If several seniors don't show up on any given day, someone has to go home. Needless to say, that can do some damage to your paycheck. With kids and bills, I just can't let my paycheck be so flexible.

Every time I go back to visit, it is so hard to leave. My former boss has told me that any time I want to come back I am more than welcome, and that helps some. When I visit, everyone seems so happy to see me, and I fall back into the rhythm of working there. It is as if I never left.

I keep telling Mr. Barefoot to win the lottery. When I don't have to worry about the $$ so much, I will go running back to my Day Center and never leave.


Deb said...

I really wish there were a way for you to go back to this job. You obviously loved it, the senior citizens surely appreciated it. I get depressed whenever I go to my grandma's senior apartment in Braham, and see how seniors are pretty much put in their own world and isolated. Quoting a John Prine song, "Please don't just stop and stare, say hello in there."

Lisa said...

I agree! Maybe, when Lil' Sprout is a bit older, you could go back just very part time. I know the money wouldn't be much, or even enough to cover babysitting/childcare, but it would do YOUR sanity so much!

Kati said...

I was just chatting with my MIL about the poor condition of our care systems for our elders, and how sad it is that those who care for our elders don't get better pay & benefits. The lack of decent pay & benefits means that the elders in our society aren't getting the quality care from quality people, as they should. (My MIL is a in home care provider for a lady who's 105 years old this year and worked until her mid-90's in a dry cleaning place, when the place went out of business.) MIL's pay & benefits for her job are very poor/low, and unfortunately the poor pay & benefits result in very few people willing to care for the elderly for so little reimbursement for their time. But my MIL's good at what she does, and her Miz Isla just loves her.

I'm sure your former employeers & care recipients loved you as well, but it's certainly understandable that you're unable to stay in a position that doesn't guarantee a decent paycheck. You, after all, must consider the welfare of your family at least as much as you'd consider the welfare of the elders you were caring for, seeing as they are YOUR family.

I hope one day the chance to work in that place with a steady, guaranteed paycheck comes your way.

barefoot gardener said...

I can't even express how much I loved that job. To know every day that I did something good and to be able to see the changes in people as they made new friends and opened up was amazing.

I think your quote is spot on. Seniors so often feel as if they are of no use or interest to younger folks, but they have so many interesting stories to tell and so much knowledge to share. All most of them want is to feel like they are not forgotten.

Everyone in my family knows that the minute Little Sprout is old enough to not need daycare (and hopefully we own a house) I am headed back to the Center. They all wish I could be passionate about a job that is a little more lucrative, but they know how passionate I am about it.

You bring up a valid point. The pay and benefits are terrible for the "grunts" in the health care industry. It is really sad, because these are the people who are taking care of our loved ones, the people who are with them most of their waking hours. Unfortunately, due to the poor pay, too often the people who work in this field should never be allowed to take care of these folks. They are rude and abrupt and don't take the time to listen or care. It just isn't fair.

Really, would you want some high school kid who is only interested in making enough $$ to fund their weekend partying taking care of your Grandma? I sure don't!!

Kati said...

Nope. I wouldn't want a teenager only concerned about having enough money to go to the movies this weekend taking care of my grandma, any more than I'd want him or her taking care of my daughter.

I just found out this morning that my state is lining up to do something rather neat. For certain professions, the state is drafting a plan to cover up to HALF the employee's student loans. The person must have worked in the state for at least one year, thus far, and the assistance is going to help them cover the costs of new debts accrued in the effort to increase their skills in their chosen profession. This is something, evidently, to assist certain kinds of teachers (should be ALL teachers, if you ask me!) and all health-care professionals. It's an attempt to reduce the number that leave state after getting their degree, since the state's wage-level hasn't increased in the past couple of decades along with the Cost-of-living in-state.

Best of luck sticking it out at your current place of work till Little Sprout is into school.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Barefoot,
I hope you get back to this job someday--it sounds like the seniors need you as much as you need them.

When I worked at WBU, I loved my senior customers. They were always so courteous and it was a pleasure for me to see them. I think some just came in for someone to talk to (and like you, it was the $$ and schedule issues that sent me to another job).